Roshen Silva earns SL 46-run lead

Published : 12:02 am  November 16, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Shehan Daniel reporting from Pallekele 

Roshen Silva missed out on a second Test hundred but his 85 proved to be as valuable, gaining Sri Lanka a first innings lead on the second day of the second Test against England at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy yesterday. 
England batted one second innings over before stumps with night-watchman Jack Leach batting out all six balls without scoring a run. 

On a pitch where 19 of the 20 wickets have fallen to spinners, and has continued to assist spin and bounce, a lead of a 46 could yet swing the end result. 

Silva’s half century proved essential despite Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva scoring half centuries and putting on 96 runs for the third wicket, as he worked with the lower middle order and beyond to get Sri Lanka ahead in the game. 

Having walked in to replace de Silva, who was Sri Lanka’s fourth wicket caught behind off the bowling of Adil Rashid with the hosts on 146, the situation turned dire when Mathews was dismissed 19 runs later. 
This left Sri Lanka in an identical situation to what England had found themselves on day one of the Test, on 165 for six. 

But where Jos Buttler and Sam Curran used control aggression to get England to 285, Silva used sense and patience, exploiting the gaps and rotating the strike. 

That led to three fruitful partnerships at the tail end of Sri Lanka’s innings – first of 46 with Niroshan Dickwella, then 41 with Dilruwan Perera before a 56-run stand with Akila Dananjaya took Sri Lanka past England’s score. 
Silva struck three boundaries, all through calculated risks, on the way to his half century which came off 103 balls before adding another four and a six, before picking out the mid-on fielder to end Sri Lanka’s innings.

Silva’s only other blemish came in the 86th over when he was deemed to have intentionally not ground his bat at the Umpires end, invoking a five-run penalty as per a little known rule found in the section 18.5 of the MCC Laws of Cricket, leading to England’s first innings score appreciating from 285 to 290. 

After losing night-watchman Malinda Pushpakumara in the third over of the day, Sri Lanka took control of the morning session, undoubtedly helped by some loose bowling from the English spinners, as Karunaratne and de Silva piled on 96 runs in 146 balls. 

Both batsmen looked reasonably at ease, especially de Silva, who wristed his fifth boundary to mid on to bring up his fourth half century in 76 balls. 

For that one and a half hours, it seemed like Sri Lanka would ease past England’s first innings total at some point of the day, and not only after losing eight wickets. 

It took a piece of magic to break that partnership, when de Silva dropped a ball short to vacant backward point and attempted a run, only for Ben Stokes to charge in from slips, pick up and hit the stumps at the striker’s end, where Karunaratne was found short. 

That needless dismissal led to a mini collapse during which Sri Lanka lost three more wickets for the addition of 38 runs. 

Stokes pulled off another piece of smart fielding when he held on to a one-handed catch at slips, off Jack Leach, to dismiss Kusal Mendis for one, before Rashid had de Silva and Mathews edging behind to wicket-keeper Ben Foakes to reduce Sri Lanka to 165 for six. 

Dickwella swept and reverse swept his way to 25 before the same shot cost him his wicket, when he was trapped leg-before wicket. 

Perera then chipped in with 15 runs, in his partnership with Silva, before an enterprising 31 off 39 balls from Dananjaya took Sri Lanka past 300.